8 Podcasts About Race in America to Listen to Now

As we face a global reckoning on racial injustice sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, there has never been a more critical time to confront our nation’s painful legacy of racial injustice.

Although racial justice activists have been working to dismantle systems of racism and white supremacy for generations, many non-BIPOC are just beginning to acknowledge the existence of institutionalized racism in the United States. While incidents of police brutality catalyzed a surge in support for the Black Lives Matter movement, they also initiated the long-awaited breakthrough of racial injustice into mainstream dialogue. As the fight for racial justice continues to dominate the media and everyday conversations, greater civic engagement is needed to achieve universal racial equity.

Self-education is a necessary first step in addressing the painful legacy of racism in our country and strengthening the collaborative movement for racial justice. The following podcasts brilliantly tackle issues of racial injustice through thoughtful discussion on the history of race and racism in the United States. 

1619

Created for the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans in America, this New York Times audio series hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones takes a critical look at the legacy of slavery in the United States. By detailing the central role of Black people in shaping American democracy, music, and wealth, this initiative brings light to the often-overlooked history of Black America. This past May, Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her compelling commentary in which she artfully highlighted extensive research and history with captivating storytelling.

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Mixed Company

In this engaging podcast, hosts Simeon Coker and Kai Deveraux Lawson examine the issue of diversity and inclusion within creative fields. By exploring current topics relating to Black representation in media and marketing from the perspectives of their own advertising careers, Coker and Lawson hope to spread awareness and provide real solutions to address the longstanding social inequity that exists within creative industries.

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Seeing White

This Duke University Center for Documentary Studies podcast, hosted by John Biewen, explores how whiteness has shaped American institutions and the oppressive racial structures that exist today. With an approach that centers the conversation around the oppressors, Biewen frames a new conversation about race that confronts the deep-rooted causes of white supremacy and racism rather than focusing solely on the symptoms of racial injustice. This approach allows Biewen to dive deep into how America’s racist history manifests itself in institutions like higher education to the criminal justice system. By taking a broader look at how white people who are not overtly racist still contribute to these oppressive structures, Biewen hopes to educate listeners on the reality of unequal systems while challenging them to change their long-held beliefs and perspectives.

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Code Switch

Launched in 2016, this weekly show from NPR co-hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby highlights the intersection between race, gender, and identity. Each episode features journalists of color who share their thoughts on race in America through a variety of lenses, ranging from history and politics to pop culture. By showcasing how people express different parts of their identities while navigating different cultural spaces, Code Switch explores the ever-changing topic of racial identity.

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Pod Save the People

This podcast hosted by Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson encourages listeners to examine everyday events through a racial equity and inclusion lens. McKesson incorporates diverse perspectives on the current state of politics through news contributions from Sam Sinyangwe, De’Ara Balenger, and Kaya Henderson. He also includes special guest features, including Senator Cory Booker and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Through honest discussions about issues like women’s reproductive rights and mass incarceration that affect people of color daily, McKesson provides the building blocks for listeners to become more thoughtful activists.

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Still Processing

In this podcast, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, two Black, queer culture writers from The New York Times, explore social issues and pop culture in a way that is both intellectual and lighthearted. From music and art to television and film, Wortham and Morris examine popular media from a perspective of racial equity. Through critiques of current trends and events, Still Processing provides listeners with a more nuanced understanding of how media and culture are woven into social movements in the United States.

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Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast

Co-hosted by Chevon Drew and Hiba Elyass, this series showcases the voices behind the movements for racial justice by calling attention to the goals and struggles of organizational leaders and community activists. As Drew and Elyass examine the intersection of race and pop culture through their eyes while building on the stories of others, they inspire listeners to expand their understanding of the scope of racial injustice. These thoughtful discussions, combined with ways to take action, build support that is necessary to eliminate racism from our “policies, institutions, and culture.”

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The Stoop

This series of informative installments by journalists Leila Day and Hana Baba explores how we talk about Blackness and what it means to be Black in America through storytelling. With a mission to not only uplift the struggles faced by members of the Black community but to also celebrate their experiences, Day and Baba are committed to shedding light on stories that are often overlooked in a mainstream culture dominated by the white perspective.

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